Director of Dragons Rugby Dean Ryan is expecting a tough pre-season challenge after a staggered approach following the late arrival of the side’s internationals to training.
The Men of Gwent saw ten players called up to the Welsh squad, with new signing Mesake Doge spending the summer with Fiji and scrum half Gonzalo Bertranou still away with Argentina for the start of the season.
Boss Ryan admits the staggered approach has meant this pre-season has been a new challenge for him during his reign in Newport.
The former Worcester head coach has also been impressed with the new signings at the region and is hoping that they’ll be able to get on the pitch sooner rather than later.
“I suppose the big recruitment was someone like Will, bringing him and his experiences from Wasps into this environment” said the former RFU coach.
“I think the staggered approach of those that were involved with Wales over the summer has been a new challenge for us to be honest because we had upwards of eight or nine maybe even ten players in that squad.
“We have probably run our last few pre-seasons with big numbers, everybody in the same place so this is the first time and Will (Rowlands) is part of that, so we have only seen him for the last few weeks same as the other internationals.
“We are looking forward to being able to get him on the field to be honest because you never really feel part of a club until you get out on the field and can express your own abilities out there.”
He continued “I think when you look at the signings of Mesake and Aki at the latter stages of the year it wasn’t easy to be honest.”
“The challenge for us of signing non welsh players was a challenge and we were staring at being very light in a couple of areas especially around prop.
“Then to be able to access that sort of quality late in the market was probably quite lucky for us.
“We played Aki twice in probably the last 6-8 weeks of the season and I think some of the changes that were happening in Glasgow offered us an opportunity and a bit of the same with Mesake.
“Normally when you haven’t been that successful at those positions that late in the market it can be quite a challenge and we have been pleased with both of them and they are great additions here.”
The Dragons take on Leicester Tigers at the Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium in their first pe-season friendly this weekend, 2:00pm kick off.
The following week the men of Gwent will take on another English Premiership side in Wasps in their final pre-season fixture before the start of the league campaign.
Boss Ryan is expecting a tough challenge against two difficult outfits but is hopeful it will put his side in a good place for when the season kicks off against the Ospreys at Rodney Parade at the end of the month.
“It will be a traditional game format, I think we have spoken to them about having the return sub element otherwise you can’t make subs early enough to make it valid but it is the normal two halves.
“I think they are a step ahead of us because of the premiership start of the season, they have obviously already played Jersey and they will be looking to be more organised.
“Where with us, without our international availability it’s still in a look and see situation and it will be a big challenge for us because that sort of one step can make an important difference at this time of year.”
He continued “We are ready to play in pre-season terms because I think there is a point where, the training starts to tip over and if you don’t play you can sort of see a bit of a drop off.
“But we are playing this week and it can give us some information about how to get better over the next few weeks and put us in a good place for the start of the season.”